Bernie Sanders, others poised to introduce guaranteed jobs bills in Senate

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is preparing to unfurl a jobs bill which will guarantee every American a permanent $15-per-hour job.

A national job program, Sanders’ plan would also encompass paid family and medical leave, and retirement, health and vacation benefits.

According to the bill, full employment would be achieved through government education, environmental and infrastructure jobs.

To reach this ambitious goal, Mr. Sanders is proposing the creation of 12 employment districts nationwide in which local and state governments submit public works plans to the Department of Labor for approval.

Similarly, any job-seeking American would qualify for employment on a Labor approved construction project or would receive training at a job training facility.  The job training center would serve as a hub to connect employers with employees.

Despite the announcement of the plan, Mr. Sanders’ office was not able to offer the cost of the plan nor details over funding.

Reaction from economists was mixed:  One economist, Darrick Hamilton, of the New School in New York City explained the benefits of Sanders’ plan:

“The goal is to eliminate working poverty and involuntary unemployment altogether.  This is an opportunity for something transformative, beyond the tinkering we’ve been doing for the last 40 years, where all the productivity gains have gone to the elite of society.”

Critics of the plan, including Brian Riedl of New York City’s Manhattan Institute, say the motion will drive up wages and force mass layoffs:

“It completely undercuts a lot of industries and companies.  There will be pressure to introduce a higher wage or certain benefits that the private sector doesn’t offer.”

Of equal concern is cost.  Economist Ernie Tedeschi, a former Obama Treasury Department official said:

“It would be extremely expensive, and I wonder if this is the best, most targeted use of the amount of money it would cost.”

Sanders’ bill arrives at the same time Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) are advancing similar plans to accommodate calls for a national infrastructure program.

“Guaranteed jobs programs, creating floors for wages and benefits, and expanding the right to collectively bargain are exactly the type of roles that government must take to shift power back to workers and our communities,” Gillibrand said in an interview.

“Corporate interests have controlled the agenda in Washington for decades so we can’t tinker at the margins and expect to rebuild the middle class and stamp out inequality. We need to get back to an economy that rewards workers, not just shareholder value and CEO pay.”

 

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